Neighborhood-Powered Streets Part 2: Beacon Hill and Wallingford groups lead the way

This story is part of a series about Seattle’s young neighborhood greenway movement. In part two, we look at two neighborhood groups that are paving the way for other neighborhoods to get organized and start planning safe streets.

Beacon (Hill) BIKES

“No one can come up with a better bike route than the people who live in the neighborhood,” said Dylan Ahearn from the Beacon Hill neighborhood biking group Beacon BIKES, which we first wrote about in September. “SDOT does a great job, but they don’t have enough time and resources.”

So with a start from neighborhood powerhouse Frederica Merrell, Ahearn and some other interested residents got Beacon BIKES off the ground with the intent of designing some safe neighborhood bicycle routes. They received a grant from the Department of Neighborhoods to hire a consultant to create a professionally designed route.

The Family Friendly Bike and Pedestrian Circulation Plan will be released with fanfare and a “people-powered park parade” May 21. The day begins at 11:30 a.m. at Jefferson Park Playground where people will parade to Lewis Park and party until 5 p.m.

Spokespeople

Cathy Tuttle started Spokespeople four years ago after returning from living in Sweden to find a Wallingford unfriendly to a wide number of potential cyclists.

“I am fine riding on sharrows, but I’m not fine riding on sharrows with an eight-year-old,” she said.

Spokespeople has focused on helping people start riding by offering very welcoming and easy group rides. However, Spokespeople, and Tuttle in particular, have also been working on a neighborhood greenway that would act as an alternative to NE 45th St, which is congested and does not have bike lanes. The group received a Neighborhood Project Fund grant to install a neighborhood greenway on NE 44th/43rd from I-5 to Aurora. The project is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.

Details are still being worked out, and there has yet to be a public meeting about the project. The biggest challenges will likely be creating safe crossings at Stone Way and Wallingford Blvd. There was some disagreement over the alignment (Tuttle wanted 44th, but SDOT was leaning towards 43rd), but Tuttle said SDOT is now leaning towards a 44th as well. There was also discussion of installing a runnel across the 41st St pedestrian bridge across Aurora, but those plans may be held off for another project.

Once completed, the Wallingford neighborhood greenway will provide a much-needed safe east-west route near the heart of the Wallingford neighborhood.

Beacon BIKES and Spokespeople both received grants for the Department of Neighborhoods, but their strategies are not identical. Beacon BIKES used the DON money to hire a consultant to design the plan, while Spokespeople left the designing up to SDOT.

CORRECTION: The strategies behind Beacon BIKES and Spokespeople were not identical. Beacon BIKES received a grant from the Department of Neighborhoods, which they used to hire a consultant to design the plan. The plan itself is not yet funded. Spokespeople applied to SDOT’s Neighborhood Project Fund, so that project will be designed and built using funding from that SDOT program.

Councilmember Sally Bagshaw said these project are “perfect for a neighborhood matching grant” from DON, but she does not want funding just to be limited to neighborhood grants.

“It would be great if we could get a dedicated revenue source,” she said.

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7 Responses to Neighborhood-Powered Streets Part 2: Beacon Hill and Wallingford groups lead the way

  1. Cathy says:

    Thanks Tom. A bit of a correction. The Wallingford Neighborhood Greenway is not funded with Department of Neighborhoods money. It is a Neighborhood Projects Funded project with all its money coming from SDOT. Thanks!

    (www.Facebook.com/Spokespeople or http://www.Twitter.com/Spokespeople is the best way for people to follow us. Our page http://www.spokespeople.us/ride.php is updated monthly)

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  3. bikefish says:

    I’m curious to know if Beacon Bikes has been able to involve the substantial Chinese immigrant community on Beacon Hill. A few years ago I was working as a visiting hospice nurse with a gentleman on Beacon Hill who had immigrated from China. He told me he desperately missed riding his bicycle -but his kids, who had come to the US before him, made it clear to him that in the US, people don’t do that! My observation – despite my love of bicycling – is that bicycling in the US is not only a fringe activity, it is a very WHITE fringe activity.

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